[lit-ideas] Re: Reason and Politics

  • From: Phil Enns <phil.enns@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2006 19:41:45 -0300

Walter Okshevsky wrote:

"In claiming the right to burn [heretics] and [apostates], I am not
necessarily denying anyone's freedom of religion. The heretic or the
apostate is an atheist on my terms since she denies the one true God as
revealed in my religion. Hence, the belief for which I require state
protection is the belief that right to life is trumped by freedom of
religion. That tenet is essential to my religious creed."

I don't see how it can't be a denial of one's freedom of religion.  If this
freedom is minimally constituted by a choice regarding religious beliefs,
killing the heretic and apostate because they are heretics and apostates is
a response to a particular choice.  In the case of the heretic, it is an
attempt to be rid of all those who have chosen to hold a belief or set of
beliefs.  In the case of the apostate, it is an attempt to be rid of all
those who have chosen to reject a belief or a set beliefs.  In both cases,
the right to burn is the right to limit what choices can be made regarding
religious beliefs.  In essence, to be threatened with death if one holds a
particular belief is to have one's freedom constrained.

One can, of course, claim that the right to life is trumped by a particular
set of beliefs, but this is neither rational nor an assertion of a freedom.
So the perfomative contradiction lies in asserting that by virtue of one's
own freedom one can constrain someone else's freedom.  To constrain someone
else's freedom is to necessarily constrain one's own.


Phil Enns
Glen Haven, NS

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